If you’re sleep-deprived, you’d better stay away from the “all-you-can-eat buffet”! Two new research studies are again showing a strong link between sleep and weight gain.

Weight Gain
Weight Gain

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain?

In a study conducted at Uppsala University, it was shown that sleep-deprived people want larger portions in their snacks and meals than they do after a night of normal sleep.

The study was conducted using a buffet, so that portion sizes could be measured. Two groups of normal-weight males were used. One group was sleep deprived, and the other group had slept for about 8 hours. Both groups were asked to select their ideal portion sizes of 7 meal and 6 snack items.

You guessed it, the men who had not slept chose the bigger portions sizes, and the most “energy-dense” foods. Interestingly, they did this even after after having eaten a breakfast when they were still full! Apparently, sleep loss increases the activation of a brain region involved in a desire to eat.

Now to make things more interesting, here’s another study telling us that what we eat will affect how we sleep.

Can your diet cause lack of sleep?

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have now shown that people who eat a large variety of foods, containing lots of good nutrients, have the healthiest sleep patterns.

The researchers wanted to know if there are differences in the diet of those who report shorter, longer, or standard sleep patterns. Participants of the study revealed in great detail a full day’s dietary intake. This included everything from the occasional glass of water to complete, detailed records of every part of each meal.

The results? – the short sleepers consumed the most calories, but the least food variety. They drank less tap water and consumed less vitamin C, along with less other types of essential nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Strangely, the long sleepers also consumed a lower food variety.

Normal sleepers – those who sleep 7 – 8 hours, were found to eat a greater variety of food with more key nutrients.

It seems that sleep and weight are more closely related than we had previously thought. There are 2 things to take away from these findings:

  1. If you feel particularly sleep deprived on a given day, be aware that your brain is going to tell you to eat way more than you need, of the wrong types of food!
  2. If you suffer from insomnia, take a long hard look at your dietary habits. Are you getting all the nutrients you need?